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Ablation seen as first-line therapy for medically refractory patients with atrial fibrillation

Focal radiofrequency and cryoablation techniques offer patients with atrial fibrillation better outcomes than medical therapy, according to recent studies. But it’s not clear if any of the two ablation techniques is superior to another. Ablation overall, however, is now widely seen as a viable first-line therapy for medically refractory patients with atrial fibrillation, reports CardiologyToday.

Although no clinical comparative data exist between cryoablation and focal radiofrequency, a study published in Heart Rhythm showed that patients with AF who underwent a combination of cryoablation to isolate the pulmonary vein, followed by focal radiofrequency ablation to treat persistent complex fractionated atrial electrograms, had better short-term outcomes.

Douglas L Packer, MD, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, US, has said, “One of the big questions now for the next set of trials is whether ablation should be used as a first-line therapy in patients who have not failed drug therapy.” According to Packer, currently two advanced clinical trials are being conducted to study this question. Their results, he said, will be announced by mid-2011.

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